LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Businesses all over the country and the Commonwealth are sharing the same struggle — not enough staff. One restaurant owner in Lynchburg had to cut business hours almost in half due to shortages.
Ledo Pizza on Old Graves Mill Road is operating on about half of its normal crew. The restaurant’s normal operating staff of 21 employees has been reduced to 10 or 12 employees for the last few months.
Owner Frank Simon says he has had a tough time filling positions following the layoffs caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I tried to hire people back, and they just weren’t coming back because I guess the federal government was paying them more than I could,” said Simon.
In August, the pizzeria began closing for 45 business hours per week, losing 180 business hours per month.
“Anybody can tell you in a restaurant business that 180 hours out of the month is a lot of hours and that’s a lot of money you lose,” said Simon.
Bartender Deronta Brame juggles bartending, serving, cleaning, and cooking.
“I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, so I come in and take a couple of hours here and there whether it’s in the back or up front,” said Brame. “Everyone is short-staffed everywhere so if you come into a restaurant and it’s taking a little bit longer, just understand that’s what’s going on. We just ask for patience. That’s all.”
Another challenge the restaurant is facing is minimum wage increases.
According to Simon, “It really put a burden on us. The only good thing, if you want to call it good, is that we didn’t have that many employees.”
Recently, Ledo Pizza’s crew of 12 grew to 15 solid members. Simon plans to stay open for an extra four hours on Wednesdays and Thursdays, starting next week. However, if the staff becomes too overworked, they’ll go back to their normal limited hours.
“I’d rather not give them service than bad service,” said Simon.
Ledo Pizza and Pasta has 121 restaurants along the East Coast with a combined total of about 1,000 open positions among as they look to hire more staff members.